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My scraper bike go hard / I don't need no car
October 25, 2009 6:28 PM   Subscribe

"There's people from literally across the world making these bikes, from Portland, Oregon, to Japan to Australia to Jamaica." The "Scraper Bike King" talks about the DIY community-oriented movement (YT), which started in Oakland was popularized with this video and covered by NPR.
posted by aniola (35 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is Hella real.
posted by pianomover at 6:36 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


(Whoops. Please pardon my failed attempt at a sentence. Looked fine on preview. )
posted by aniola at 6:39 PM on October 25, 2009


Wonderful.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:42 PM on October 25, 2009


My bike seems so plain now!
posted by farishta at 6:48 PM on October 25, 2009


love.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 6:54 PM on October 25, 2009


Ghostride the tailwhip!
posted by loquacious at 6:55 PM on October 25, 2009


I knew I was holding on to this set of original spokey-dokes for a reason.
posted by nonspecialist at 7:28 PM on October 25, 2009


Stevenson says he's already making a living scraperizing bikes, but he's got big plans for the future: trademarks, patents and, someday soon, a scraper bike shop.

I wonder if he should start with the bikeshop, then try to work the Intellectual 'Property' angle.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:44 PM on October 25, 2009


When it comes to tricking out your bike, I personally prefer the Burning Man aesthetic.
posted by zylocomotion at 7:58 PM on October 25, 2009


I expect this to be co-opted by Williamsburg hipsters. Fixies with huge mylar-encrusted wheels blocking taxis and attracting the chicks.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:00 PM on October 25, 2009


If hipsters don't kill this, oncoming traffic will.
posted by unmake at 8:03 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like the fact that he used this to escape from poverty and a life of crime, and that it might increase the popularity of bicycling, but dislike the fact that it essentially boils down to making bicycles obnoxiously gaudy and way less efficient.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:03 PM on October 25, 2009


That song on the made from skratch video sucks so much.
posted by djduckie at 8:14 PM on October 25, 2009


You say obnoxiously gaudy, I say kind of neat-looking.
posted by kenko at 8:25 PM on October 25, 2009


A little cultural relevance is probably in order.

Despite the relatively recent influx of jobs, cannabis culture and hipster-artist instigated gentrification, much of Oakland is still hell on earth.

The quantity and quality of poverty there cannot be understated. Oakland is or was the homicide capital of the United States for something like a whole decade or more - several decades - depending on who you talk to or listen to. It was the birthplace of the Black Panthers for a reason. You're talking about a community that was abandoned by everyone and more often hurt by the police and services rather than helped.

If all you see is ugly, gaudy, unstylish or distasteful decorations on crappy recycled bikes and otherwise just don't get it - you're totally missing the larger picture in that these cartoonish, innocent and fun bikes and culture have arisen out of one of the bleakest urban landscapes West of St. Louis.

The fact that such a positive, fun, DIY movement involving bicycles came from there is incredibly heartening and hopeful. It's empowering. They're making those bikes out of garbage, out of broken homes, out of squalid ghetto apartment courtyards - out of nothing.

If you think that this lacks style or taste - you're dead wrong. You have no idea how much style and taste they have to be able to pull anything joyful and positive at all out of that quagmire of misery. If you think it'd be fun or funny or ironic to co-opt this or otherwise make fun of it like people did with hyphy, whistle tips or "sideshows" or "ghost riding the whip" - you're probably part of the problem. Go back to riding your fancy store-bought bike through your safe suburban streets with bike lanes and don't give it another thought.

And - thankfully - they don't give a fuck what you think. They're used to it.
posted by loquacious at 8:59 PM on October 25, 2009 [33 favorites]


dislike the fact that it essentially boils down to making bicycles obnoxiously gaudy and way less efficient.
You say that like "obnoxiously gaudy" is a bad thing!
posted by craichead at 8:59 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I for one am a hipster in favor of co-opting these styles. And I've been working on it since 2007!

Evidence:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/spor/1425369933/
posted by garethspor at 9:21 PM on October 25, 2009


Oakland is or was the homicide capital of the United States for something like a whole decade or more - several decades - depending on who you talk to or listen to.

Oakland has never held that title, although the violent crime statistics are horrible. East Palo Alto did hold that title in 1992, however.
posted by Revvy at 9:23 PM on October 25, 2009


I love these bikes. It's all about these kids making them, not buying them.
As for "way less efficient," who cares? They're like, maybe, high heels. They aren't made for distance, they're made for fun.

And though it's as far away from my music as possible, I love the Scraper Bike song. It makes me smile.
posted by cccorlew at 9:26 PM on October 25, 2009


This is everything I like about bike culture right here.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:39 PM on October 25, 2009


Loquacious is on to something. This brings to mind the genesis of early graffiti (Lee, Dondi, Lady Pink, et al.) as a response to bland urban environments.
posted by msbrauer at 9:44 PM on October 25, 2009


Oakland has never held that title, although the violent crime statistics are horrible.

Yeah, sorry. I'm not doing Oakland any favors by using that kind of hyperbole and framing.

I'm just trying to put it into perspective. It sure isn't Mayberry, but Mayberry never existed.

A lot of the kids building these bikes have probably never been in a museum, a proper art class or even a main stream bike shop like Specialized or something. That's one of the other parts of "they're building them out of nothing" I'm trying to get at. They're mostly innocent of the politics of post-modern aesthetics - yet they often somehow embody post-modern aesthetics.

And the SCRAPER BIKE track is actually pretty awesome. The vocal effects and mixes are at once referencing hyphy, crunk, beatboxing as well as simulating a number of audio processing effects through layered mixes and vocal samples, all with a goofy, fun, twisted sense of humor. Those kids aren't trying to be "hard" or "gangsta" - they're just having goofy fun.

And if you didn't know it already - crunk and hyphy is modern punk rock. It's totally DIY and hands on.
posted by loquacious at 10:02 PM on October 25, 2009


Also, did you note the "Composition Notebook" hat in the video, with the signature black/white mottled graphics and the familiar black/white logo on the face? I want that hat. That hat is more nerd-cool than a PeeChee folio.
posted by loquacious at 10:06 PM on October 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not to dissaude from good old snark, but really, anyone, do yourself a favor and watch that first link. This is just goddamn beautiful.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:54 PM on October 25, 2009


And loquacious has the music angle nailed. The first hook chorus and I knew this track was from Oakland.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:55 PM on October 25, 2009


Ghostride the tailwhip!
posted by loquacious

If you think it'd be fun or funny or ironic to co-opt this or otherwise make fun of it like people did with hyphy, whistle tips or "sideshows" or "ghost riding the whip" - you're probably part of the problem.
posted by loquacious


That did make me lol a little.

posted by lazaruslong at 11:56 PM on October 25, 2009


The fact that such a positive, fun, DIY movement involving bicycles came from there is incredibly heartening and hopeful. It's empowering. They're making those bikes out of garbage, out of broken homes, out of squalid ghetto apartment courtyards - out of nothing.

I take it its kind of like a first-world version of that guy in Africa who built a windmill for his shack. Or at least similarly inspirational. I mean, you could argue that this is all aesthetic and does nothing for - possibly hinders - the functionality, but keep in mind the people building these bikes could probably just go out and steal a working bike for the cost of less effort. As they say in the first video, its more about finding a positive outlet for creativity and construction.
posted by mannequito at 12:37 AM on October 26, 2009


I see that "made from skratch" is not at all the same thing as made from scratch, which is what I believe "that guy in Africa" did to get his windmill.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:10 AM on October 26, 2009


I like it. This only hinders functionality if you think your idea of a bike's function is the only one possible.
posted by echo target at 6:44 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's what I was thinking, echo target. It appears that what they want out of a bike is to be able to do neat tricks and ride around the neighborhood looking cool. If they wanted a commuter bike, their modifications would hinder functionality, but that's not what they're looking for in a bike.
posted by craichead at 7:28 AM on October 26, 2009


This is cool. I've seen a kid in my neighborhood riding a Schwinn trike with a subwoofer box, amp and car battery in the back. Good for them.
posted by fixedgear at 8:46 AM on October 26, 2009


RRRRGGHHHHHH. The partner and I were talking about this just yesterday when the Famous People Players were mentioned on the radio. We both agreed that we found it disturbing that it was so notable to us that the CBC went through a whole news story about them without mentioning the FPP is comprised of "developmentally delayed" performers. Notable, because almost always when Famous People Players is mentioned, the next phrase is almost inevitably something about how special the members are. And in that span of ten seconds, a news item turns from "neat performance art" into "look at the cute disabled people doing their special trick." We were thrilled that the CBC didn't say anything at all about it -- because the Famous People Players put on a hell of a show.

And you know what?

These guys and their bikes put on a hell of a show, too.

I don't give a FUCK that they're from Oakland or pulled themselves out of a life of murder, assault and burglary to turn some burnt out garbage bikes into these kick-ass rides. They're having a great time doing something fun as hell, and I could totally see turning one of the rusted, sad bikes in my garage into something like this -- something that makes people on the streets and trails double-take and smile.

Loquacious, I'm not against your point at all -- I simply don't see it as relevant to the fun they're having, or the awesomeness of what they've made.

Similarly, I don't see the point of crapping on them just because the bikes look lame to you. If you don't like some art, performance or activity, just fucking move on.

(now thinking about spraypaint and cardboard)
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:17 AM on October 26, 2009


the scraper car fad which inspired it is completely absurd to start with. So how can this be anything but absurd as well. building stupid colourful bikes saved his life? you must be kidding....
posted by mary8nne at 9:32 AM on October 26, 2009


building stupid colourful bikes saved his life? you must be kidding....

Many people have pulled themselves out of desperate and dangerous life situations through the application of creative endeavors.
posted by Revvy at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Scraper Bikes were also on the cover of the summer issue of Momentum Magazine as well.

I think they're awesome because bikes are awesome and creativity and fun are awesome. People spend time and money on all sorts of hobbies that I find silly but it beats what most people do which is stare at a screen for entertainment.
posted by vespabelle at 1:23 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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